The outgoing year 2001 has become a turning point in the strengthening of military-technical cooperation between Russia and countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States. This was said on Friday in a RIA Novosti interview by Vladimir Paleschuk, deputy chief of the Russian Committee for Military-Technical Cooperation with foreign states. The "mark-time" period is over, he said. "At last we have entered a period of stability in business relations. It is an effect of the strengthening of political stability in Russia and the understanding in Commonwealth countries of our being needed for each other so as jointly to push forward to the international market of military hardware", he said. In comparison with previous years, in 2001 the number of enterprises on the post-Soviet space which have established business contacts with Russian factories has sharply increased, said Paleschuk. 373 Ukrainian, 60 Belarussian, 20 Uzbek, 9 Azeri, 8 Georgian, 11 Moldovan, 12 Kirghiz businesses now supply accessories for 547 Russian enterprises of the national defense industrial complex. At the same time, 1,155 Russian enterprises ship supplies to defense organisations in Commonwealth countries. Military-technical delegations from Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Belarus are going to come to Russia in the first half of 2002 for negotiations on the expansion of cooperation, reported Paleschuk.
An explosion of household gas occurred in a nine-storeyed apartment building in the city of Shakhty, the Rostov region of Russia. The blast destroyed two storeys of the building